• France's news in English

Hundreds of migrants try to storm Channel Tunnel

The Local/AFP · 29 Jul 2015, 08:04

Published: 29 Jul 2015 08:04 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Hundreds of migrants desperate to reach England made around 1,500 attempts to enter the Eurotunnel terminal overnight in
the French port town of Calais, a police source told AFP Wednesday, adding that one person was found dead.

"Our team found a corpse this morning and the firefighters have confirmed the death of this person," added a spokesman for Eurotunnel.

"Everything happened overnight, and at 6 am (0400 GMT), the police still have quite a lot of work to do," said the police source, adding that "between 500 and 1,000 migrants" were still around the tunnel site.

Speaking on Wednesday Morning UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the situation was "very concerning" and that Britain was "doing everything we can" to prevent such incidents, including investing in fencing around the area, adding he did not want to "point fingers at people to blame".

The migrant, a man of Sudanese origin believed to be aged between 25 and 30, was hit by a truck that was leaving a cross-Channel ferry, the police source said.

The latest fatality brings the number of migrants who died near the Channel Tunnel Tunnel terminal site to nine since June.

Tuesday night's attempts to storm the Channel Tunnel came the night after migrants made around 2,000 attempts to get to Britain through the same way on Monday night. 

"It was the biggest incursion effort in the past month and a half," said a spokesman for Eurotunnel, which is battling often deadly efforts by migrants to smuggle into Britain.

As the crisis reached new levels Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May announced that the UK would stump up a further €7million towards improving security in Calais following talks in London with her French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve.

For several weeks, there have been many attempts by large numbers of to enter the Eurotunnel premises.

Security at the Calais port was stepped up in mid-June, driving migrants who previously tried to stow away on trucks that take ferries across the Channel to try their luck smuggling through the undersea tunnel.

The migrants were trying to enter the site "between midnight and 6:00 am," the Eurotunnel spokesman said.

"All our security personnel, that is nearly 200 people, as well as police were called in," he added.

The incident caused serious delays to the Eurotunnel service for much of Tuesday, with passengers held up for around an hour on the British side and 30 minutes on the French side.


A French police source said the migrants did not try to force their way all at once, and that the figure of 2,000 related to the total number of incursion attempts -- not of migrants.

Up to three migrants were hurt trying to board the trains, he said.

Since the beginning of June, eight migrants have died trying to enter the tunnel.

The port at Calais has been mostly closed since June because of a dispute between ferry staff from France's MyFerryLink and the Eurotunnel group, which owns the boats.

Many migrants have tried to take advantage of the backed-up traffic to jump onto trucks making their way towards the harbour.

Story continues below…

According to the last official count in early July, around 3,000 migrants, mainly from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and Afghanistan, were camped out in Calais

British Home Secretary Theresa May said her government would put up an additional seven million pounds
(€9.8 million ) to help France secure the Eurotunnel site on its side of the Channel.

"We're dealing with terrible criminal gangs," she said.

"We agreed that we will work together to return migrants, particularly to West Africa, to ensure that people see that making this journey does not mean that they are being able to settle in Europe."

The Eurotunnel company itself is seeking 9.7 million euros ($10.67 million) from the British and French governments in compensation for disruption caused by illegal migrants.

Cazeneuve accused the company in a letter Tuesday, the content of which was seen by AFP, of not taking the necessary security measures.

"First of all I would like you to ask yourself about the human resources you are planning on dedicating to secure the site," Cazeneuve said in the letter, noting that the company has slashed two thirds of its security staff since 2002

The Local/AFP (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available